Bondi lifeguard @harrisonreid knows a lot about water. He grew up a five minute walk from the beach. He spends his working days watching the ocean to keep people safe.
But he was like a fish out of water when it came to a question about the use of agricultural land.
Is red meat production in Australia sustainable?
He was a man on a mission, keen to find out what’s going on. After all, he loves a good steak as part of his healthy diet and wants to feel good about eating it.
So, he visited an Aussie beef farm to see if what’s good for his body, is good for the environment too.
Happily for Harrison, he doesn’t have to pack away the steak knives anytime soon.
He saw first hand the sustainable practices the industry has put in place and learnt livestock methane isn’t the climate bad boy it’s made out to be.
Just as the tide comes in and out, methane is part of a natural cycle that repeats too.
As part of this cycle, carbon dioxide (CO2) that is already present in the atmosphere is converted into methane (CH4) when cows eat and digest grass. After about 12 years or so, the methane is converted back into CO2. The grasses that the animals graze on then absorbs the carbon through photosynthesis, converting it into carbohydrates to provide energy and nutrition to the animals…and the cycle starts again. This is called the biogenic carbon cycle.
The key difference between this cycle and fossil fuel greenhouse gases, however, is that methane from livestock began with CO2 that was already in the atmosphere. The gases from fossil fuel production on the other hand come from deep in the earth where they have been stored for millions of years…away from the atmosphere. So there is an additive effect without any way to cycle the gases back out of the atmosphere again.
Harrison left Woko Station near Gloucester in NSW satisfied that not only is the industry sustainable, but it’s also doing more. That includes a commitment to CN30 - being carbon neutral by 2030.
“Oh, 100% the red meat industry in Australia is sustainable. They don’t have the government breathing down their neck like…other industries…They are doing that off their own back, which is pretty special.”
The golden sands of Bondi Beach are lifeguard Harrison Reid’s office.
So what’s he doing 300km away on an Australian beef farm?
Harrison mightn’t spend much time on farms, but his food does. So he wanted to find out more about where it comes from and how it’s produced.
And who better to hear from, than the people who know that food best?
The farmers who produce it.
Harrison passionately believes it’s important to have a connection with where your food comes from - even if you’re living in busy Bondi, hours from the nearest farm.
His visit to ‘Woko Station’ in NSW opened his eyes to the commitment farmers like Robert ‘Macka’ Mackenzie have made to sustainable production.
And when it came time for lunch, he learnt his biggest lesson of the day while helping prepare the meal.
“One thing I took away from it was actually from Sam the chef and learning about using the whole of the animal, which is a big one for me,” Harrison said.
The food was sustainably produced and it should be sustainably consumed too.
Because the environmental impact of a sustainable diet comes not only from how our food is produced and how much food we eat - but how little we waste.